Centuries-Old Fishery at Risk in a South African Marine Park
As the number of fish traps in Kosi Bay increases and commercial interests intrude, fish populations are in jeopardy.
iSIMANGALISO WETLAND PARK, South Africa—Themba Mkhonto was thigh-deep in the warm water of Kosi Bay, an estuary near the Mozambique border, when I waded 100 yards from the shore to talk to him. He was repairing his fish trap, which he told me had belonged to his father and his grandfather before him.
Fish trapping is a centuries-old tradition here. No bait is involved. The fish follow a brushwood palisade, curved like a hook, that guides them into one or more circular pens, called kraals. They get into the kraal through a cunning gate made of crisscrossed sticks; easy to enter, hard to exit.
Once inside, large fish cannot escape, but small ones can squeeze between the stakes of the